New 'Watchmen' Video Answers a Big Mystery About the HBO Show

Damon Lindelof's 'Watchmen' sequel has new rules for fighting crime. This is one of them.

The world of HBO’s Watchmen is unlike anything fans have read before. In a new behind the scenes featurette, showrunner Damon Lindelof, series star Regina King, and director Nicole Kassle explain the scary new world of Watchmen, including why the police wear creepy yellow masks in all the trailers.

In short, the police are now the ones who hide their identities, but the reason why is even more intriguing.

On Monday, HBO released a new behind the scenes video for Watchmen, a new live-action drama premiering October 20 that functions as a distant sequel to Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore’s seminal comic book Watchmen from 1988.

Set in the modern day, superheroes are outlawed, but a new “terrorist organization” called the Seventh Calvary, who appropriate Rorschach’s inkblot mask as their own, have risen in the absence of heroes.

It’s because of the Seventh Calvary, King explains, that “the police wear masks to protect themselves and their families.”

But what do you get when you have violent people behind masks? Exactly that. In the world of HBO’s Watchmen, no one knows the difference between the good guys and the bad ones anymore. “Masks saves lives,” one character says, before Jeremy Irons’ Ozymandias coldly replies, “Masks make men cruel.”

The last Watchmen trailer, which debuted at San Diego Comic-Con, also briefly alluded to this reason why the police wear masks. But the new featurette goes more in-depth on the explanation and world-building to the series.

So, that solves that mystery. Since the first images and trailers for Watchmen went online last year, those yellow masks have encouraged various theories from fans on Reddit. The yellow was mighty evocative of the book’s signature motif, which was the Comedian’s bloodied smiley face badge, but why cops are seen wearing them had yet to be explained until now. In rare form, Lindelof is just flat out explaining what a strange new thing is rather than continue to tease it out over an excruciating number of episodes.

Watchmen examines how we as a society feel about heroes,” Lindelof says in the video. “Most notably, people who wear masks and fight crime.”

Nicole Kassle, director and executive producer, says Watchmen is more concerned with the abstract concept of identities and behavior than a subversive take on the overly-familiar superhero genre. “[The show] explores the complexity of who you are when you wear a mask, [and] who you are when you’re not wearing a mask,” she says.

The show’s producers also insist viewers don’t need to read Watchmen to grasp the series. “Our Watchmen honors the graphic novel without making it necessary to have read it in order to understand this new story,” Lindelof says. But you absolutely should read Watchmen anyway if you haven’t, just for your own sake.


Watchmen will premiere on HBO on October 20.

Media via HBO